6. Housework is also work.
You don’t get paid for this, but house work still needs to get done, and unless you have househelp, you have to do it. Even if you have someone who does your laundry and ironing, there are still a lot of concerns that need your attention, simply because you’re the family member who’s at home.
So if you have a lot of housework that needs doing, factor that into your schedule. If you need to do the laundry, don’t attempt to work on that 50-page report you’ve been putting off. It’s not just time you need to consider here, but your energy levels too! When I buy groceries, that usually means I have to spend an hour or more in the kitchen, prepping meats before storing them in the freezer. After that I’m usually beat, so I’ll only work on easy things the rest of the day.
If you also do the cooking, it helps to have easy food solutions. We always have meats that are easy to pop into the turbo broiler for a quick dinner. With some buttered vegetables you have a complete meal. I always have chicken pieces too. There are always canned tomatoes and corn that I can easily put together as a side dish. I usually have homemade pesto in the fridge, so it can go with pasta or a sandwich. Stuff like that really helps cut down on food prep time.
There’s a reason offices have firewalls, or block social media sites. It’s because they really are distracting! When I’m working and I need to focus, I close Facebook and sometimes email too. I have a tab open for Messenger.com so I can still talk to people for consultations, and I have a tab open for Hangouts because there are some people I need to chat with there. Then I have Google Calendar open in another tab so I can always check my schedule.
Some browsers have extensions that won’t let you open certain sites when you’re working. You indicate which sites are temporarily blocked and for how long.
It also helps to close any non-essential programs. Not only will this reduce your distractions, but this will also free up memory on your computer or whatever device you’re working on. I usually just need Microsoft Word and a browser to work, and I’ll have Windows explorer so I can check my files, and Notepad too for quick notes. If I want to play music, I do that from my tablet so it doesn’t slow down my laptop. Pomodoro Challenge runs on my tablet too.
8. Figure out what works.
I didn’t figure out my work-at-home routine the moment I quit my job. Over the years I had to try different techniques. I also had to learn what works for me. I had to learn to stop begrudging myself the time I spend on housework and other household chores. I had to learn that emails take up a lot of time, and are not always productive! There was a lot of trial-and-error.
9. Be kind to yourself.
Some people are allowed to work from home, but are still required to be “at work” (meaning at their desks and visibly online) from 9 to 5. Other people just have output to deliver and timetables to maintain. Whichever one you are, remember that you need breaks too, just like people with regular jobs. You get sick too. You have bad days too. Your laptop might crash. The toilet might clog. Things happen. So give yourself a break from work to deal with stuff like that.
When I get sick, I stay in bed. I hate it, because I know that work is unfinished. But I know that if I try to work, I’ll just get sicker, and I’ll be out of commission for longer. So I tell my editors, my clients and my colleagues that I’m sick, and I’ll be back to work in a day or two.
This is the other side of the coin. You can look up all the productivity guides and install all the apps, but at the end of the day it boils down to discipline. If you’re going to work, work! Don’t open that document then play games in your browser. If you have a deadline, sit down and work on it, instead of going out for coffee or browsing your Facebook news feed for several hours.
This is what it takes to work from home. This may not work for you, but it’s worked for me so far. I may tweak a few things from time to time, like using different apps or different productivity hacks. But more important than the apps and the hacks and the shortcuts is your attitude towards working at home. Because it doesn’t matter where you work. What matters is that you work, and that you find a way to do your work well.
What works for you?